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Lulling to the soul: poppy seed oil

The poppy is a sign of rebirth for Egyptians because these incredibly colored blossoms are cut down with the harvest, only to come up again.... and again.

July 05, 2019 2:32 pm

As the exquisite, timeless poet John Keats wrote, “Through the dancing poppies stole A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul”. Indeed, poppies are lulling to the soul in many more than one way. Certainly, poppy seed oil has long been an essential ingredient in some of the loveliest and most soothing concoctions around. For instance, paints, soaps, luscious gourmet dishes, and healing medicines all benefit from the addition of poppy seed oil.

Sun-thickened

A cave in Afghanistan contains one of the oldest oil paintings known to humanity, traced back to 650 AD. Poppy seed oil is used in these works. Moreover, sun-thickened poppy seed oil is recommended for painting. This striking phrase could almost belong to Keats, or to ee cummings! All poppies love the sun and grow best in it.

Sun-thickened could also be used to describe the calming effect that poppy seeds can bring. Although a large amount of poppy seeds would need to be ingested to attain the intoxicating effects of drugs made from poppies, there are minute amounts of opium alkaloids in poppy seed products. These can help soothe your nervous system, relieve stress, and increase your ability to cope with physical aches.

Where in the world is the poppy?

The poppy is a herb that is found in many regions of the world. For example, Asia and the Middle East are known for the farming of opium poppies. However, in the early 20th century, France and Germany led the world in the production of poppy seed oil, processing poppy seeds grown in other countries. Today, the Czech Republic and Turkey are the top exporters of poppy seeds.

More proof of how awe-strikingly international poppy seeds are? Consider their names. That is to say: kasa kasa in Tamil, posto in Bengali, khush khush in Punjabi, and gasagasalu in Telugu. In addition, kas kas in Malayalam, and khus khus in Hindi. Meanwhile, the word in the Kannada language is gasegase. In Sumeria, poppy flowers were dubbed joy plants – another poetic moniker. Papaver somniferum is the scientific name.

poppy seed

Medicinal uses of poppy seeds over the years

Poppy seeds appear in primitive texts on healing across numerous cultures including ancient Greek, Minoan, and Roman civilisations. Moreover, poppy seed extracts are used to treat ailments of the skin in Ayurvedic medicine, as well as healing muscle tension and relieve constipation, among other things. Likewise, venerable Egyptian writings mention the use of poppy seeds to induce sleep. Medieval people elsewhere used a tonic made from milk, honey, and opium from poppy seeds on wailing infants. In the same vein, people in many different places across the globe use poppy seeds to promote sleep and fertility. In “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy goes to sleep after being given poppies! Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilises poppy seeds for pain relief, respiration, and the digestive system. If you wish to use poppy seed oil to treat sleeplessness naturally, we recommend a teaspoon before going to bed.

What is our favorite instance of the wide-ranging powers of the poppy? An esoteric attribution to the poppy in folklore, alluding to its ability to grant invisibility!

The look and taste of it

The wildly beautiful poppy flowers are red, lilac, blue, white, and orange. In England they are symbols of respect for war veterans in remembrance of the deep renewal they brought to decimated First World War battlefields. For Genghis Khan however, the poppy meant human sacrifice. After the flowers begin to wilt, poppy seeds begin to grow.

Each poppy head measures approximately five to six centimeters long and four centimeters across. One head will have many, many tiny seeds that jiggle within their cocoon. The seeds are so minute that it takes 3,300 of them to make one gram!  Fully grown poppy seeds do not have the opiate constituent. Once the seeds make a noise when the pod is shaken, they are ripe for the picking. The flavor of differently colored poppy seeds is pretty much the same.

poppy seed health benefits

 

Poppy seeds also make a befuddling number of appearances in cuisines across the world, from topping traditional strudels in Germany, Austria, and the Americas, to the Bengali potato dish aloo posto, to the dessert gasagase payase in Karnataka. This enticing dish combines coconut, white poppy seeds, and jaggery, a type of cane sugar. Grilled or fried patties made of powdered poppy seeds are popular in many places. Czech, Croatian, Ukrainian, and other Eastern European cuisines also hold the poppy seed dear.

Poppy seed oil is delicate and nutty. It is lovely in salad dressings or as a condiment. A Turkish study identified poppy seed oil as an aromatic, rich edible oil. In other words, the test group described cold pressed poppy seed oil as waxy, fruity, creamy, roasted and sweet.(1)

"100g of poppy seed oil provides a remarkable 38% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E."

Contemporary use of poppy seed oil for fertility

Contemporary research into poppy seed oil for fertility is very positive. For instance, a recent study looking at poppy seed oil as a cheaper, easier, and healthier alternative to IVF showed that poppy seed oil can flush obstructions in Fallopian tubes better than water can. The fertilized egg is then able to travel to the uterus. In addition, the rate of live births increases in women using poppy seed oil to clear their tubes.(2) This testifies to the benefits of poppy seed oil when used to rinse parts of the body.

Poppy seed oil for the hair and skin

Poppy seed oil contains a high amount of unsaturated fatty acids. For example, this oil includes linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Further, it provides the valuable oleic acid. Linoleic acid moistens and restores dry skin and hair. Similarly, oleic acid is widely used as an emollient.

Poppy seed oil is beneficial for people suffering with skin ailments such as inflammation, eczema, prickly skin, and dandruff. It is a very good choice for those with sensitive skin. This oil is a carrier oil which is nice when mixed with essential oils or honey.(3)(4)(5) Poppy seed oil is also an effective massage oil. It is a thin, light, non-greasy oil that flows easily. Poppy seed oil does not absorb too quickly into the skin. It is suitable for all types of skin, and water made from poppy flowers is used to hydrate the skin.

Furthermore, 100g of this oil provides a remarkable 38% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.(6) That is to say, your immune system and your ability to fight toxic free radicals in the environment will be boosted.(7) When applied topically, vitamin E helps your skin soak up the energy from harmful ultraviolet light. This is another reason why poppy seed oil is a beautiful thing to put on your skin.(8)

We like applying a small amount of poppy seed oil to hair and skin at night. In the same vein, you could make an easy face mask by combining sea salt, lemon peel, lime peel, poppy seed oil, and poppy seeds. It’s a real pick-me-up for tired faces and souls.

The poppy of the matter

All in all, whether taken externally or internally, the vitamins and phytonutrients in poppy seed oil help calm your body, of which so many demands are made. Above all, the ability of poppy seed oil to fight free radicals relieves pressure put on your heart, brain, and immune system.

Key poppy seed oil benefits

  • Calms and soothes
  • Health advantages for heart and brain
  • Supports good sleep
  • Rich in phytonutrients that help fight nasty free radicals
  • Abundant in Vitamin E
  • Good massage oil

Erbology poppy seed oil

Erbology Poppy Seed Oil is organic and cold-pressed. Certainly, this preparation method means that valuable chemical compounds native to the oil will remain wholly intact. Most importantly, Erbology Poppy Seed Oil is vegan, gluten-free and clean of any preservatives or genetic modifications.

Yogurt parfait with poppy seed oil recipe

We don’t know about you, but we are always on the lookout for new ways to jazz up our near-daily yogurts. With its nutty flavor, poppy seed oil is the perfect ingredient to add to your perfect parfaits! We teamed our poppy seed oil with sweetly refreshing coconut yogurt, and indulgent fresh fig. Not to forget wholesome blueberries and the crunch of hazelnuts and apple, everything topped with our favorite maple syrup. A touch of surprise and novelty is added with a nasturtium leaf.

 

poppy parfait

 

The components of this recipe will always be nourishing for your body or spirit. To make it extra nourishing, make your own coconut yogurt!  It’s easy and much better for you. It’s nice to feel extra virtuous as well as extra healthy! We enjoy this parfait for breakfast, but it would be ideal as a mid-afternoon snack in the sun, or a light dessert.

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References

(1) Emir et al, “Cold pressed poppy seed oils: sensory properties, aromatic profiles and consumer preferences,” Grasas y Aceites, 2014, https://bit.ly/2P687ue.

(2) Dreyer et al, “Oil-Based or Water-Based Contrast for Hysterosalpingography in Infertile Women,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2017, https://bit.ly/2VBZxWn.

(3) Ando et al, “Linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin,” Archives of Dermatological Research, 1998, https://bit.ly/2VGcC17.

(4) Downing et al, “Essential fatty acids and acne”, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1986, https://bit.ly/2U8uOP1.

(5) Krist et al, “Analysis of Volatile Compounds and Triglycerides of Seed Oils Extracted from Different Poppy Varieties (Papaver somniferum L.),” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2005, https://bit.ly/2UtzaFG.

(6) Nutrition Value https://bit.ly/2VEwstC.

(7) Vitamin E https://bit.ly/1qEiXu7.

(8) Vitamin E and Skin Health, Oregon State University, https://bit.ly/2uYEUrE.